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Old Sep 15, 10, 2:33 pm   #1
 
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When flying United out of IAD: Do you take People Mover or Aerotrain?

Now that you have a commuting option between the Dulles Airport main terminal and the United Airlines C and D terminals, which transport option do you take? The classic 1960's People Mover or the shiny new Aerotrain?

Whenever I fly out of IAD, I always take the People Mover, even with I'm departing from C gates. I so dislike the too-long walk when using the Aerotrain. I feel its a longer commute than the People Mover. And you can't beat the People Mover airport tarmac view.
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Old Sep 15, 10, 2:39 pm   #2
 
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It depends...

..on time of day, terminal, etc.

Both systems are still being used. On my last two trips (April and August) out of IAD I took the train from security to my terminal, but when I was arriving, I was on the buses.
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Old Sep 15, 10, 3:07 pm   #3
 
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Unless I'm heading for an A gate (or I'm tight on time), I invariably use the Dulles Diamond checkpoint on the baggage level and then head straight back for the D shuttle. I enjoy the view from the mobile lounge (like the previous poster), and I enjoy the hike - even going all the way to the low-number C gates.

The only advantage to taking the AeroTrain to C is the walk past the beautiful back-lit photos at the south end of the tunnel.

Note that the Dulles Diamond checkpoint closes at 6pm.
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Old Sep 15, 10, 3:21 pm   #4
 
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The only big problem with Aerotrain the last time I was through IAD (when the train was only a couple of months old) is confusing signage. Passengers had trouble figuring out which way to go, and getting turned around can lead to problems when there are tight connections.

I love the people movers (A New Use for IAD's People Movers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Expatinglasgow
Me: My flight has been cancelled.
Agent: Mr. Expatinglasgow, your flight is only delayed due to weather.
Me: No, it has been cancelled. I have just been offloaded and I am sitting on a people mover.
Agent: People movers do not take passengers off of planes. We cannot rebook you just because of a weather delay.
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Old Sep 15, 10, 3:32 pm   #5
 
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I found it hard to believe that I prefer the people movers vs the train. The walk to get to/from the train adds an additional 5-10 minutes between gates.
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Old Sep 15, 10, 11:29 pm   #6
 
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Aerotrain departing, people mover returning

I'm enough of an aviation nerd to enjoy the view of the ramp from a people mover. But when I have a plane to catch, the possibility of being held up waiting for taxiing aircraft to clear the way makes me nervous. The train--if it's working, and if my flight is at the C gates--doesn't involve that anxiety.

When I'm returning, I don't have that time pressure, and I don't mind soaking in the view from the people mover. OTOH, it's not like I've had a choice--both of my arrivals at IAD since the Aerotrain entered service either arrived at the D gates or landed after the train had shut down.

(The people movers would be a little more interesting if they took me directly to the plane. But I've only done that once, back in 1990 or 1991. Does IAD still use them for their original intended purpose with any airlines? I can't remember seeing any H gates listed on the departure screens lately.)
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Old Sep 16, 10, 5:42 pm   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DCA writer View Post
(The people movers would be a little more interesting if they took me directly to the plane. But I've only done that once, back in 1990 or 1991. Does IAD still use them for their original intended purpose with any airlines? I can't remember seeing any H gates listed on the departure screens lately.)
Yes, they still do. Juts this July, I boarded an IAD-AMS flight right from the People Mover - very cool experience. Was that the original intention? That passengers would board and disembark aircraft via People Movers? I just thought they were a relic of auto-centric 1960's Americana.
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Old Sep 16, 10, 10:32 pm   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wayan View Post
Was that the original intention? That passengers would board and disembark aircraft via People Movers?
So says IAD. You'd wait in the main terminal, then board a people mover that would roll directly to your aircraft. Technically, the ones that can elevate themselves to meet the door of a plane are called "plane-mates," while the ones that just look like the Urban Assault Vehicle version of a bus are "mobile lounges."

I have read that at first, they even functioned as real lounges, with cocktail service. (True?) If the Mad Men storyline continues long enough, an episode ought to feature one of those.
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Old Sep 17, 10, 8:51 am   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DCA writer View Post
So says IAD. You'd wait in the main terminal, then board a people mover that would roll directly to your aircraft. Technically, the ones that can elevate themselves to meet the door of a plane are called "plane-mates," while the ones that just look like the Urban Assault Vehicle version of a bus are "mobile lounges."
They were definitely used for boarding at some (other) airports. My first flight, circa 1974, was from JFK to TLV and we boarded the El Al jet using one of these.
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Old Sep 17, 10, 10:47 am   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wayan View Post
Yes, they still do. Juts this July, I boarded an IAD-AMS flight right from the People Mover - very cool experience. Was that the original intention? That passengers would board and disembark aircraft via People Movers? I just thought they were a relic of auto-centric 1960's Americana.
Can you explain why this was done? Was there a lack of a physical jetway or something?

What a cool experience to use the system as it was meant to be used!
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Old Sep 21, 10, 5:14 am   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pingtung View Post
Can you explain why this was done? Was there a lack of a physical jetway or something?
According to http://www.centennialofflight.gov/user/fact_jul.htm the first air bridge was installed at SFO in 1959; pretty much everywhere else you walked out or took a bus onto the tarmac, then climbed stairs— something still common in most of the world, and at smaller airports like BUR or LGB. It no doubt seemed like the mobile lounge would be more efficient and more comfortable. After all, to board every plane by a fixed Jetway would require a lot more terminal space, which means you'd wastefully have to build more terminals midfield and endure a lot more walking .

They still board a few international flights with the Plane-mates, and while I have no personal experience, I have heard plenty of complaints. It's not like the inter-terminal mobile lounges, which just shuttle back and forth on a schedule. The Plane-mate can't leave until every last passenger is boarded, which can mean a long, crowded, and weakly air-conditioned wait for everyone else.
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Old Oct 3, 10, 12:42 pm   #12
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When IAD was first designed, there were no mid-field terminals. The idea was that all flights would board through mobile lounges which would roll directly to the aircraft which would be parked around the field.
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